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THE PROVENCE CURE FOR THE BROKENHEARTED
by Bridget Asher

Genre: General Mainstream Fiction, Mainstream

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Here is one way to say it: Grief is a love story told backwards.

Or maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe I should be more scientific. Love and the loss of that love exist in equal measure. Hasn’t an equation like this been invented by a romantic physicist somewhere?

Or maybe I should put it this way. Imagine a snow globe. Imagine a tiny snow-struck house inside of it. Imagine there’s a woman inside of that tiny house sitting on the edge of her bed, shaking a snow globe, and within that snow globe, there is a tiny snow-struck house with a woman inside of it, and this one is standing in the kitchen, shaking another snow globe and within that snow globe …

Every good love story has another love hiding within it.

***

Ever since Henry’s death, I kept losing things.

I lost keys, sunglasses, checkbooks. I lost a spatula and found it in the freezer, along with a bag of grated cheese.

I lost a note to Abbot’s third-grade teacher explaining how I’d lost his homework.

I lost the caps to toothpaste and jelly jars. I put these things away, open-mouthed, lidless, airing. I lost hairbrushes and shoes – not just one of a pair, but both.

I left jackets behind in restaurants, my pocketbook under my seat at the movies, my keys on the checkout counter of the drugstore. Afterward, I sat in my car for a moment, disoriented, trying to place exactly what was wrong and then trudged back into the store where the check-out girl jingled them for me above her head.

I got calls from people who were kind enough to return things. And when things were gone – just gone – I retraced my steps and then got lost myself. Why am I here at this mini mart? Why am I back at the deli counter?

I lost track of friends. They had babies, defended dissertations, had art showings and dinner parties and backyard barbeques …

Most of all, I lost track of large swathes of time. Kids at Abbot’s bus stop and in the neighborhood and in his class and on his baseball team kept inching taller all around me. Abbot kept growing, too. That was the hardest to take. 

I also lost track of small pieces of time – late mornings, evenings. Sometimes I would look up and it was suddenly dark outside as if someone had flipped a switch.

So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that Abbott and I were running late for my sister’s pre-wedding bridesmaid bonding. We had spent the morning playing Apples to Apples, interrupted by phone calls from the Cake Shop – which Henry and I had opened together shortly before Abbot was born and I was still in charge of in my distracted way. Abbot and I ate freezer pops, the kind that come in vivid colors packaged in plastic tubes that you have to snip with scissors and that sometimes make you cough. Even this detail is pained. Abbot and I had been reduced to eating frozen juice in plastic. I’d grown up making delicate pastries, thinking of food as a kind of art, but Henry was the one who convinced me that food is love. We’d met during culinary school and he’d always cooked our meals. I was now kitchen-avoidant. The fact of the matter was that life charged on without me. This realization caught me off guard even almost two years later, although by this point it had become a habit – a simple unavoidable fact: the world charged on and I did not.

Excerpted from The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher Copyright © 2011 by Bridget Asher. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.